This post is mirrored from: jessecravens.com
I work for frog, a product design firm, that for the last forty years has been helping increase the profiles of brands like Sony and Apple through iconic design.
I work within a culture that has deep roots into the Maker Movement; A culture that was making before the Maker Movement was cool, the “original makers” if you will. Written upon our walls and slide decks is the tag, ‘Love What You Make’, and as you might expect many of the frogs that sit around me are craftsfolk, DIYourselfers, and tinkerers. It is not uncommon to see a flying quadcopter, a mesh sensor network of Arduinos, 3D printed prototypes, explorations in next generation gesture with the Leap Motion and Kinect, video production, motion studies, 3D modeling, along with the standard artistic mood boards and web and native mobile application wireframes. Let’s just say there is no shortage of creativity across every medium imaginable.
Sharing My Craft with my Children
All of that being said, I’m a parent of two young children. My little ones constantly challenge me to find ways to share quality time with them. The parents reading this know the juggling act.
What I try to do is architect bridges between my children’s curiosity and the passions of others that have explored their crafts in a deep way. Myself, and my wife, being the most important of those craftsfolk.
If I’m doing it right, when I spend time with my children, they should share in my excitement and passion. If I’m doing it wrong, I’m overwhelmed and exhausted from work. In my vision, my children should be witnessing a model of how to wake up everyday with the goal of embracing opportunity to create a combination of function and beauty within the world around them.
So in the spirit of authenticity, I pretended as if getting prepared for a closing keynote dependent on hacked together hardware and software demos wasn’t challenging enough; I made the decision to include my 6 year old son, Carter with a flying drone and a custom configured Minecraft server accessible over conference wifi. I knew this would ensure that the presentation dangled on the brink of disaster, mirroring the chaotic reality of both open hacking and parenting.
Here are some of the highlights:
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Nodecopter and the Leap Motion
I started with the basics of the node-ar-drone module:
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Later, a crowd favorite was mapping the gestures from the Leap Motion to the Parrot AR drone, so that a one finger clockwise gesture triggered a nodecopter takeoff. A counter clockwise gesture then landed it. I was able to put this together using the leapJS and node-ardrone node modules, based on some initial hacking by Markus Kobler, where he pulled this off at a Nodecopter London event.
Later, I showed how to script inside of the Minecraft virtual world, using Walter Higgins’ great ScriptCraft library. I wasn’t expecting the conference wifi, and single access point, to suffice in allowing Carter and I to interact within virtual world. I was also concerned about the dynamic IP, and having to change it on the fly, start/restart the server, etc. So I made the decision 10 minutes before to not have Carter log in, and I would just speak to the possibility instead. In true 6 year old fashion, he rebelled and logged onto my server, popping up in front of me wearing a Creeper mask, as I was mid stream explaining how to script wooden signs with his 1st grade sight words as a homework exercise.
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Needless to say, his innapropriate behavior was a crowd favorite. I have to admit, it was mine as well.
Going into the talk, I knew I’d either be trying this again in the future or abandoning it as ‘one of those ideas’ that sounded good in theory, but was just not going to work. Where did I land? Well, let’s just say that Carter and I are looking for our next opportunity to share our experiences with other parents/web professionals.